In the past two and a half decades, I have sought to develop a robust understanding of the changing context of security and the challenges to peacemaking in conflict-affected regions and societies. The outcome that I seek from my research is new and cutting-edge knowledge that transfers into quality and innovative teaching and contributes leading ideas to transforming policy toward developing countries, particularly in Africa.

My research has benefitted in part from grants from Research Councils, Foundations and governments through which I have sought to build a corpus of researchers to advance knowledge in the emerging areas at the core of my research.

My Research History

Since 1991, my research work has revolved around issues of conflict, peacemaking and security in developing societies, not least in Africa. As such, my research has focused on peacemaking and security in developing societies affected by armed conflict. Consequently, I have sought to contribute to research through identification of the issues underlining the changing nature of peace and security in Africa, especially in the following sub-themes:

  • Peacekeeping and peacebuilding
  • Youth vulnerability and exclusion in Africa
  • Women, peace and security
  • Militancy and violence in West Africa – See project video at:
  • The governance of security

My work on peacekeeping and multilateral diplomacy received funding from the United Nations University and United States Institute for Peace (USIP) respectively. My research on youth vulnerability and exclusion was supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). I led research on women peace and security from 2005, which was funded in part by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded my research on militancy and violence in West Africa (in collaboration with James Gow and Charles Abiodun Alao both at King’s College London). In addition, through collaboration with the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and the African Security Sector Network (ASSN), I have developed my research on security sector reform and governance in Africa.

Current and on-going Research

As part of my current research, I am devoting attention to a gap in knowledge that emerged from earlier research. This is the absence of a focus on leadership in literature on peacemaking and in policy interventions. Yet evidence suggests that an overwhelming focus on institution building in post-conflict societies that do not have strong institutions might not succeed without a targeted focus on leadership processes.


This research re-examines the conceptual underpinnings of peacebuilding and the rift in its practical application, particularly in Africa, which pose a dilemma for those seeking stable peace in situations of armed violence. It then explores the ways in which leadership is generally conceived and how the construct is brought into being in peacebuilding contexts, drawing out the underlying flaws appoaches. In particular, this research argues that by treating leadership unsystematically in peacebuilding processes and by regarding it largely as something that is based on the perspectives of individual persons and positions that can be subsumed within the institutions created for peace, a major chance for transformation is missed.

It further argues that when leadership is seen as process, it opens up the possibility of finding lasting solutions to conflict, from within the wider society, which members of society identify with. As such, a process approach to leadership, rather than one that narrowly focuses only on particular personalities or particular positions of authority, offers a potential for peaceful solutions that are the product of an interactive process between those offering peace ideas and the whole of the affected society in a collective response to their mutual situation. The research will analyse evidence from several situations of conflict and peacebuilding interventions in Africa. It will seek to offer proposals for strengthening the conceptual and practical connections between leadership and peacebuilding.

For more details, see:


I am Principal Investigator for this research project, which is being implemented at the African Leadership Centre and funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

We argue for a rethinking of approaches to peacebuilding and statebuilding in Africa. Current approaches to peace and state building rely on a dominant narrative that constructs statebuilding as a prerequisite to peace. Underpinning this is the assumption that a certain type of [democratic] state would produce peace. As such, interventions in societies affected by armed conflict focus on the transfer of a model of statebuilding that is expected to lead to lasting peace and stability. We challenge this if only we build “good” states, peace will come approach on several grounds, two of which are mentioned here. One is that the underpinning assumption of this approach is inherently flawed. Rarely does the dominant discourse of peacebuilding construe the outbreak [potential or actual] of intractable conflict, which sometimes and paradoxically threaten the very survival of African states and the efforts to reconcile affected societies as part of a continuum of statebuilding.

We therefore argue that peace in the form construed by current interventions is not an end in itself. Rather, peacebuilding should be conceived as part of the continuum of statebuilding in the affected societies. Many situations of armed conflict in post-independence and post-Cold War Africa are the result of statebuilding conversations taking place in the specific national contexts. And those conversations might require a distinctly different solution, process or time frame from the models offered in response by interveners. In pursuit of this argument, we examine a number of conflict situations in Africa, which ended through different forms of political or peace settlements. We draw a distinction between two types of violent/armed conflict settings.

The first consists of those situations of armed conflict where violence ended on the battlefield and the post-conflict agenda was pursued locally without active external participation [Ethiopia; Rwanda]. The second includes situations where the end of violence as well as post-conflict agenda was negotiated and facilitated by external interveners [Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Sierra Leone]. We suggest that an examination of these settings might enable us to make better sense of the impact of internally and externally driven processes, and the extent to which each helps to set conflict affected societies on the course of nation and statebuilding in ways that produce stable peace.

For more details, see:


I am principal Investigator for this research programme, which connects a number of scholars and institutions across ALC’s network.

Three core sets of questions occupy our attention in this research programme. First, what does resilience mean in African societies and states? Is resilience what we think it means in those places? What separates the notion of resilience in the African context from other contexts? Second, in what realms can we find evidence of the most robust structures and instruments of resilience to destructive conflict, violence and large-scale insecurity including disasters? Are the most prominent places the most robust sources of resilience? Third, through what mechanisms and processes can we develop, transfer and scale up ideas and methods that offer solutions that make societies more resilient to destructive conflict, violence and disaster?

In seeking to address these questions this programme focuses on “society” rather than the “state” as an entry point from which to study interventions and approaches that work or fail to build resilience in societies and states affected by conflict, violence, and large scale insecurity including disaster. To be sure, it recognizes the important role of the state. But we contend that in the process of solution seeking there is the tendency to relegate to the background, ideas and interventions outside the view of the state, which provide some evidence of success. More so, many African societies demonstrate a fine measure of resilience when compared to the state. As such, there is potential to upscale some of the experiences for application at the level of the state.